Get Ready With Me: Watercolor Style

While there are a lot of different styles of watercolor or ink paintings, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your next idea.

Let's talk supplies


First, Paper.

Before you ever touch a paintbrush, you want to make sure you're working on the right paper. I can write a more in-depth description going over all the different types, GSM, tooth, etc. but for watercolor, I suggest choosing between Bristol, Mix Media, or Watercolor Paper. There are a lot of great brands out there (more than shown in my pictures) just keep an eye out for these labels.



Bristol paper is thick and smooth, making it ideal for wet media. I recommend Bristol if you are looking to work with markers or pens with your watercolor and want very even, flat washes of color. This is your buddy if you're looking to try your hand at anime/manga styles, especially.


Mixed Media

Mix Media is my go-to for sketchbooks. It's thick and durable enough that it can handle wet media, as well as a lot of erasing. It has some texture (or tooth) to the paper, which can take some getting used to, but I prefer it now. It also tends to be a bit cheaper than traditional watercolor paper.


Watercolor Paper

Watercolor paper is literally made for this. It typically has one smoother side and one that has more texture. It's designed to be able to handle a lot of layers or watercolor and not fall apart from getting wet. It can get relatively expensive, but it's great if you're planning a detailed piece. As you can see, I tend to hoard the stuff.


Bonus Tip: If you do a piece on your "nice" paper, but you think you

messed up or you don't like it, DO NOT THROW IT OUT!

Keeping scraps of your preferred paper is an awesome resource for testing out how new supplies react or how colors mix. Having an art piece that you aren't worried about ruining can also be great for getting creative with layering. For example, "hmm, I wonder if my glitter pens will look cool in a watercolor drawing."


Next, drawing supplies.

I know I said this was for watercolor, but bear with me. There's no erasing in watercolor, so the base drawing can make or break you.

When it comes to watercolor, don't be afraid to trace your base drawing. If you can draw something perfectly, with your first line, then you are magic, and this is not the blog for you.

I highly suggest working out your drawing and composition on a separate piece of paper and lightly tracing onto the final paper you want to paint on to keep it as pristine as possible.

I use a very light pencil, at least an H, (usually a 4H) to draw out on my good paper. (If you have no idea what I mean I can write a separate explanation).

I keep my lines light like this for two reasons:

  1. I don't want my lines to show through the light parts of my watercolor painting.

  2. I don't want any graphite to get mixed in while I'm painting and muddy my colors.

Another option is to use a mechanical pencil or a very sharp pencil and to keep your pressure as light as possible.

If I'm using this strategy, I will go over my drawing when it's all done, before I start painting, and lightly erase. Preferably I will use a kneaded eraser and pat - not swipe - pat up as much excess graphite as I can.

I prefer to not have to use an eraser on my final piece as much as I possible because it can affect the way the paper absorbs the color in those spots.


Bonus Tip: Keep it clean!

Clean your workspace and wash your hands, (making sure both are entirely dry)

before you put down your good paper. The oils from your skin can stain your paper

and affect your final painting.

If you have used an eraser, take a clean, soft piece of cloth and wipe off

your paper to remove any excess bits that could be hiding.


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